Bookstore


Tobi Khan:Sacred Spaces for the 21st Century

Tobi Khan:Sacred Spaces for the 21st Century

$30.00

This volume, published to accompany an exhibition at the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA), New York, in October 2009, discusses the definition of sacred space in the 21st century, and the processes through which it is created, by focusing on recent artwork by leading contemporary artist Tobi Kahn. The central work in the exhibition is Kahn’s commission for Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun in Milwaukee, WI (2008): a cohesive artistic ensemble in which the space of the sanctuary is defined by paintings and the Ark doors (punctuating the walls and separated by expanses of windows), and populated with liturgical and symbolic objects. In Kahn’s art, the sacred space is as much enclosed or delineated by the artworks as it is created by the ritual which they help perform. This point is strengthened by other examples of sacred and meditative spaces and objects included in the exhibition, such as the models for the Healthcare Chaplaincy in New York City (2001) and for Shalev (New Harmony, IN, 1994). If ritual creates space, Kahn’s art also teaches that objects create or modify ritual – as is the case of his monumental Omer counter (Saphyr II, 2004), included for the first time in a museum exhibition. 

 Kahn’s art is introduced by Songs and Meditations by novelist and poet Nessa Rapoport; in addition, the volume features essays by scholars Ena G. Heller, David Morgan, Klaus Ottmann, Daniel Sperber, and Jeff Edwards, which study Kahn’s work within the broader context of art created for sacred spaces, for use in worship and liturgy. Kahn has said that he wants to give people images that are rooted in recognizable things, but are not so specific as to lead to foregone conclusions. This exhibition and volume are a case in point: these sacred spaces, whether architectural enclosures populated by artwork or single objects with a performative dimension that helps beholders conceive their own ritual (or participate in a public one), suggest even more than they offer.